Councilman Roberto Treviño discusses his $14 million plan to aid local foodservice workers

click to enlarge Councilman Roberto Treviño’s recently approved relief plan stands to bring substantial help to the food and beverage industry of SA. - JADE ESTEBAN ESTRADA
Jade Esteban Estrada
Councilman Roberto Treviño’s recently approved relief plan stands to bring substantial help to the food and beverage industry of SA.
Councilman Roberto Treviño’s recently approved relief plan for local food workers hasn’t grabbed as many headlines as his involvement in the Alamo Plaza plan, but the $14 million initiative stands to bring substantial help an industry still struggling amid the pandemic.

The plan will provide nearly $10 million in aid to local bars and restaurants in the form of grants to help them retain staff and stay current on payroll. Additional funding will cover living expenses for foodservice industry employees struggling to make ends mean during the crisis.

A former foodservice worker himself, the District 1 councilman talked to us about what drives his efforts to give the local restaurants, bars and their workers a seat at the table.

Now that your plan has been approved, what’s next?

A lot of folks in the industry will tell you that what we set aside before was simply not enough. I agree with them. I think this begins to help a lot of those businesses that are fortunately still around. But the reality is that there are a lot of businesses who could have used the help — now it’s too late. That’s tragic, and the reality we’re going to have to face. The broader question is going to be ‘Is this enough?’ I think we all feel like it’s a good [starting point], and we’re grateful, but we’re probably going to need more. No one anticipated this winter storm, and that has only created a bigger issue for us. We were already vulnerable as a city, and we became more vulnerable with that event.

Can you speak to your own experience with the food service industry?

Yes, I used to be part of the industry myself. I became an architect over time, but some of my favorite work experience has been working in food and beverage. That time makes up some of my best memories, really, in life. My favorite job was working at Stubb’s Bar-B-Q, and it was just because I was working with the best people. I really believe we need to do as much as we can to put more money into food and beverage and our housing assistance program, because that’s where we are, that’s where we live. These are the people we know, and that’s the most complete way to address the emergency. They are part of the community, they recognize that they need to be there for us, so we need to be there for them.

There can be a stigma surrounding folks who choose to invest their lives behind a bar or in a kitchen. What are your thoughts on that?

One of the things we set out to do is to show that food and beverage is very much part of the fabric of our community and should be recognized as a workplace of choice. Some people just want to work in bars and restaurants. That’s where they want to be. I outlined that money from the Workforce Development Program could be taken to support this effort, because this is supporting existing workforce. I think it needs to be said more often that the food and beverage industry is a large part of San Antonio’s culture. It is who we are.

So many restaurants, so little time. Find out the latest San Antonio dining news with our Flavor Friday Newsletter.

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